RIYADH (92 News) – Saudi Arabia has imposed temporary ban on local pilgrims from performing Umrah due to the fear of coronavirus outbreak.
It is pertinent to mention here that the experts suggested coronavirus is highly contagious and can permeate faster in crowds.
Under the temporary ban Saudi nationals and residents living in the Saudi Arabia wanting to perform Umrah will also not be allowed into the holiest sites.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that it is working to help foreign pilgrims still in the kingdom return to their countries.
A day earlier, Saudi Arabia
extended a ban on entry of Umrah pilgrims from various countries including Pakistan till March 31 amid fears over the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Saudi Airline has issued directives for cancelling all air tickets until the set deadline. The airline also said that the ban would include those travelling on Umrah and tourist visa from the country owing to the ongoing situation created after the global outbreak of coronavirus and reports of five virus-infected cases from the country.
The countries other than Pakistan that would come under the ban included China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan and others.
It asked the airline to waive off ticket penalties and refund the entire ticket amount. The passengers were asked to refrain from visiting airports to avoid inconvenience and contact Saudi Airline Sales Support centre for the refund.
The airline has conveyed the directives for cancellation of all tickets to airport station managers at major country’s airports including the ones in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.
It is noteworthy that only those possessing iqama and business and family visit visa could travel to the kingdom until the deadline.
Earlier on February 27, Saudi Arabia
temporarily suspended entry to the kingdom for the Umrah and visits to al Masjid Al Nabawi in Medina. Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Twitter amid fears over the spread of the new coronavirus.
The kingdom has also suspended entry to Saudi Arabia for anyone with tourism visas from countries where coronavirus is a threat. The Foreign Ministry called on citizens not to travel to countries where the new coronavirus is spreading.
Saudi officials stressed that the restrictions are temporary and will be continuously reviewed by the health authorities. They reiterated the Kingdom’s support for and implementation of international efforts to limit the spread of the virus, and the Foreign Ministry urged citizens not to travel to the countries worst affected by the coronavirus.
Nearly 7 million Umrah pilgrims visit the Kingdom each year, the majority of whom arrive at airports in Jeddah and Madinah.